A committee has decided to employ water pumps to remove the landslide at Dzongkhalum which has cut off access for the past two weeks

Dzongkhalum block clearing to take weeks

Transportation: Following a committee meeting yesterday, the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA) has decided to deploy water pumps along with excavators to clear the debris above the slide area at Dzongkhalum.

Headed by Trongsa Dzongdag Sonam Rinchen, the committee was formed on July 16 to look into the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway block at Dzongkhalum that occurred on July 5 and has persisted till now.

MHPA’s joint managing director, Chencho Tshering, said the water pumps will help bring down the debris from above and excavators will be deployed to clear it. He said that the water pump will not aggravate the situation below the road as the base of the road is solid rock.

The highway has remained blocked for 13 days.

“With these measures, we hope to clear the road in about two weeks,” said Chencho Tshering. Measures are also being explored to protect the nearby bridge.

The entire area could slide down if any attempt is made to fell trees above the slide

The entire area could slide down if any attempt is made to fell trees above the slide

The work will be closely supervised. The committee members said that there could have been a huge landslide some 35 years on the same stretch of the road.

The investigation team from MHPA has found that no remedial measures could be taken above the slide area as there are unstable boulders and cracks through which water seeps and triggers the slide.

“Initially, we thought of trapping and draining the water that was seeping from the top, but it was impossible,” said Chencho Tshering. He added that the block is affecting the project and general commuters.

“We are in a state where we can’t leave it or do it,” said Chencho Tshering.

Dzongdag Sonam Rinchen said the committee’s priority is also to save the bridge from falling boulders and trees. He said that the committee also called an expert who usually does tree-cutting work along the road. The expert withdrew after studying the situation.

The committee members said the whole area of rocks could slide down at any time if an attempt is made to cut the trees.

The highway was handed over to MHPA by the Department of Roads (DoR) with a memorandum of understanding.

Chencho Tshering said that currently they have allowed light vehicles with high clearance to pass through a bypass tunnel. For safety reasons, heavy vehicles are not allowed through the tunnel.

Chencho Tshering said that ropeway might have to be set up as an alternative for transportation if the road cannot be cleared soon.

DoR had initially contracted the road-widening work to a contractor after which the work was taken back through a mutual understanding. The contractor was also compensated with another work package on the East-West highway. MHPA had given the fund to DoR for widening the road.

After the first contractor left, MHPA took over and the work was contracted to the present contractor.

The road at Dzongkhalum is being widened by MHPA to transport their heavy machines for the project.

The road widening work started in December last year and is scheduled to be completed by March 15, 2017.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa

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